Family: Married to Ronald D. Wolf; two adult sons
Residence: Chicago, IL
Wolf is the retired chair and CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide. She has served on Walmart’s Board of Directors since 2005, and she sits on the Compensation, Nominating and Governance Committee as well as the Technology and eCommerce Committee.
Refusal to address concerns of Walmart associates
Members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) and their allies have repeatedly reached out to Linda Wolf for her to listen to their concerns. Ms. Wolf has repeatedly ignored these requests (see here for a detailed list of efforts by Walmart associates to have Ms. Wolf listen to their concerns).
Wolf’s previous Chicago home sold for over $2.4 million in August 2012. Linda and Ron Wolf also own a home in Nantucket, MA. In 2003, the Wolfs bought a parcel of land in Nantucket for over $1.6 million. On it, they constructed a 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom home as well as a two-bedroom guest house. The property is now valued at over $3.6 million.
Educational and professional background
- Ohio Wesleyan University: Bachelor’s degree, Spanish, 1969
Wolf retired as chair and CEO of Chicago-based ad agency Leo Burnett Worldwide in 2005. She spent most of her career with the company, starting out there in 1978 as an account executive on the Nescafe account. In 1991, she was named Executive Vice President, Business Development for Leo Burnett USA.
In 1996, she became Leo Burnett USA’s first female President, responsible for all US operations. In 2001, Wolf was named CEO and chairperson of Leo Burnett Worldwide. Though she lacked much international experience when she took the position, Wolf was responsible for Leo Burnett Worldwide’s operations, with offices in more than 80 countries and more than 8,000 employees.
In 2004, the U.S. Army, then a client of Leo Burnett USA (LBUSA), brought suit against Leo Burnett for overbilling its services. The suit alleged that LBUSA falsely and deliberately portrayed its advertising unit, called iLEO, as a subcontractor and billed the government accordingly. The company also billed work done by copywriters at the same rate as that of top executives.
Then-CFO Eric Martinez had objected internally to the overbilling and ordered an audit, but before he could carry it out, CEO Wolf fired him. In 2009 Leo Burnett settled the suit with the U.S. Army for $15.5 million.
Prior to Leo Burnett, Wolf worked for Heinz in Pittsburgh.
Walmart shareholders have increasingly expressed concern about Wolf’s leadership of the company. In 2013, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System voted against all of Walmart’s board members, including Ms. Wolf. Calpers, the nation’s largest pension fund, voted against her as well, explaining “in light of the continuing concerns around the company’s record on sustainability issues we are withholding support from Linda Wolf who chairs the Nominating and Governance Committee which reviews and advises management on the company’s social, community and sustainability initiatives.” The New York City Pension Funds voted against Wolf too, also citing her role on the Nominating Committee and “for failing to ensure adequate board independence.”
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.: Director since 2005. Chair of the Compensation, Nominating and Governance committee. Serves on the Technology and eCommerce committee.
- InnerWorkings, Inc.: Director since 2006. Serves on the Audit Committee, Compensation Committee, and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.
- Janus Capital Group, Inc.: Trustee for investment funds advised by the firm.
- Wrapports: This company owns the Chicago Sun-Times among other papers; Wolf is a founding board member.
Wolf has given $8,300 in federal elections since 2000; the biggest contributions went to fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama.
- Field Museum, Trustee
- Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau, Board of Directors
- Lurie Children’s Hospital, Board of Trustees
- The Chicago Community Trust, Board of Trustees
- The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Board of Directors
- The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Board of Directors
- Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, Board of Visitors. Wolf was named an honorary alum of Penn State in 2007. Her husband, Ron, graduated from Penn State in 1965, and her son started there in 2003. Linda and Ron Wolf contributed to a new Smeal building, in which a classroom is named in their honor.